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Va. law firm seeks payment from Christian Coalition for unpaid bills.

A Virginia Beach, Va., law firm has asked a state court to order the Christian Coalition to pay an overdue bill and garnishee the group's assets if necessary.

Attorneys at the firm of Huff, Poole and Mahoney filed a request asking for $75,530.96 from the Coalition, the Virginian-Pilot reported in March. The amount includes $63,958.44 in unpaid bills, $11,512.52 in interest and a $60 fee for garnishment costs.

David M. Zobel, an attorney with the firm, told the newspaper that the bulk of the money owed is "a combination of several accounts owed on several files." The firm had a longstanding relationship with the Coalition, going back to the group's founding by TV preacher Pat Robertson in 1989.

Drew McKissick, political director for the Coalition, would not elaborate on why the bill has not been paid but did tell the Virginian-Pilot, "It is unfortunate that it has come to this. Our accountants have been working with the firm to work this out, and hopefully, it will be worked out soon."

Once the most powerful Religious Right group in America, the Christian Coalition has fallen on hard times in recent years. Robertson cut ties to the group in December of 2001, and it has been plagued by financial problems and dwindling influence ever since. The organization is now run by Roberta Combs, a Robertson associate from South Carolina.

McKissick admitted that the group lost members after President George W. Bush took office in 2000, but he insisted that things are now on the upswing, telling the paper that membership is "surging."

A problem of a different type is also shaking up the Coalition. On March 17, The Hill newspaper in Washington reported that Combs' daughter, Michele, is in the middle of a nasty divorce from her husband, Tracy Ammons.

Both Michelle Combs and Ammons, who married in 1999 and have a child, worked at the Coalition. Ammons, who served as the group's Senate lobbyist, no longer works there. Michele Combs is the group's vice president for communications.

Jonathon Moseley, Ammons' attorney, charged that Roberta Combs has been in the thick of the fight.

"While the nation debates traditional marriage versus gay marriage, the president of the Christian Coalition, Roberta Combs, is encouraging and bankrolling a nasty, hardball divorce by her own daughter," Moseley told The Hill.

Moseley charged that someone hired an attractive woman to approach Ammons at a conference and lure him into a tryst.

"A private investigator, a beautiful woman, did come up to him, and he of course rejected her," Moseley said.

Michele Combs asserts that Ammons was found at a hotel in the company of another woman.

Asked for comment about the matter, Michele Combs told The Hill, "What he's putting out is not true, but I'm not going to comment on any of these details. It's just a divorce between two people. You know, divorces happen every day. I can't imagine why our divorce would be of any more interest than anybody else's."

In a Feb. 24 Coalition press release, Roberta Combs commended President Bush for endorsing a federal marriage amendment. She said, "[T]he Christian Coalition believes that marriage will and should be protected."
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Title Annotation:People & Events
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:535
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